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Mon August 18, 2014

WWI Exhibition: "Notre Mère la Guerre - Mother War - Mutter Krieg" at Goethe Institute San Francisco, starting August 18th unti

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at Goethe Institut German Cultural Center (see times)
"Notre Mère la Guerre - Mother War - Mutter Krieg"

by Susanne Brandt

Exhibition at the Goethe-Institut, San Francisco, from 19. September 2014- 10. October 2014

Opening reception on 18. September 2014



“Only if you understand war, will you find the murderer“, said Kris, the author of Notre Mère la Guerre. The comic tells the story of a serial killer who brutally murders three young women in the winter of 1915 in the French Champagne region. Constable Roland Vialatte is in charge to find the murderer. The General who urges the police to get results in the investigation fast, explains: “My man are ready to die for their country, but we can’t be devoted to warfare while our women are being killed behind our backs! “ But police won’t be able to solve the case until the fall of 1918 …

The comic, published in France in four volumes between 2009 and 2012 and in German translation in 2014, is at first appearance a crime story. However, the authors Kris and Maël offer the reader much more than this – Notre Mère la Guerre is a well-researched, manifold and terrifying panorama of World War I. What have those soldiers been fighting for? Were they actually in favor of the war, or did they just follow orders for fear of punishment? Why is murder in the civilian world punished, while there are Thousands murdered at the same time, in the same country? What happens to those who survive the war? These are questions opened to discussion by Kris and Maël to their readers.

The exhibit displays original drawings. Maël works with watercolors, they allow him to draw fast, with atmospheric density and accuracy in detail at the same time. His style is called “style tremblé“ in French, due to the vibrating black contours of his figures, the landscape and objects. His panels are no thesis - Kris and Maël ask questions, it is up to the reader to find the answers.

During extensive research in archives and museums, the authors have studied the main historical works about World War I, as well as research works about the brutalization of politics between the wars. Also on Kris’ reading list: Christopher Browning’s “Ordinary men” and “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” by Daniel Goldhagen. In line with other contemporary researchers, he places World War I in the context of violence across all societies of the 20th century.

Also shown in the exhibit are materials documenting the creative process of the comic, sketches and exposés show Kris and Maël exploring all expressive possibilities of the medium.

“We wanted to make war comprehensible to the readers; we wanted the readers to immerse themselves slowly and deeply into the question of what war really is. For us, the question is not only who is the murderer, but, most essentially, why does he kill?”
"Notre Mère la Guerre - Mother War - Mutter Krieg" by Susanne Brandt Exhibition at the Goethe-Institut, San Francisco, from 19. September 2014- 10. October 2014 Opening reception on 18. September 2014 “Only if you understand war, will you find the murderer“, said Kris, the...
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Goethe Institut German Cultural Center
530 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

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